The golf balls that were first invented were made of wood. Around the 17th century another type of ball was invented; these were called “featherie” balls. They were given this name because they were literally stuffed with goose feathers and the outside of the ball was made of cowhide.
In order to shrink the cowhide around the feathers, the balls were boiled in water. Production of these balls was very slow, as it took a long time to make just one and very few could be produced in the span of a day. They were also expensive, thus many could not afford them.
One large advancement in golf balls happened in 1848, when Dr. Robert Adams, invented the “guttie” ball. It was made of sap from the Sapodilla tree. This tree sap was heated and formed into spherical shapes. While the balls worked well when perfectly rounded, it was discovered that they worked much better if their shape was not perfect.
Once it was found that the shape of the heated sap affected the way that the balls flew, all of them were purposely misshapen. It was after this discovery, along with the fact that they were much cheaper to make than the balls produced before, that most every golf club in the country began to use them.
In the last century, golf balls were made with multiple layers, consisting of a liquid center, a rubber thread wound tight over it and having a cover put on it to make our modern ball. The country club hills of today have slowly played a part in refining the design to what it is today.
Nowadays, they are made as 2, 3 or 4 layered balls, and materials like surlyn or urethane are used to form the layers. The dimples on these balls make it possible for them to be hit farther than plain balls because of the lift and drag effect on them.
Golf balls used in regulation play have to weigh less than 1.62 ounces and have a diameter of 1.68 inches. All of them have to have a completely spherical shape as required by the US Golf Association. This does not mean that other sizes do not exist, but they are not used in regulation play.
There are two types of balls that are available in the golf store these days, the recreational and advanced. The recreational balls are generally two layered balls that are cheaper to manufacture. The advanced balls provide more spin power to the user and are made with more than 3 layers.